Monday, April 3, 2017

The Importance of Others

I have touched on the subject of online writing groups a couple of times before but this time I would like to come at it from a different angle. I thought I would share a bit about what I love about one of the writing groups I am in and then see what some other writers I know have to say about a group they are in as well.

There are all kinds of online writing communities. Some are straight-up critique groups, others are for folks all with the same publisher, some are there for people to shameless self-promote, and still others are there to help with motivation, word counting, and goal tracking.

I am in half a dozen online writing groups on Facebook incorporating all but the shameless self-promotion, but I have to tell you my favourite group of them all brings in all the elements and then some. As someone who is generally annoyed by people but is also fascinated by them and values friendships this group is a little slice of internet heaven for me.

Here are just a handful of the things that make this writing group my first destination in the morning when I open up Facebook and usually the last place I visit online before I got to bed:

  • Advice in this group is never dispensed without someone having asked for it. 
  • There are no agendas.
  • It is not political (except for a unanimous distaste for the current U.S. President).
  • Occasional shameless self-promotion is welcome, but more often than not group members are promoting other group members. 
  • It is not always about writing. Friendship and emotional support are in abundance. 
  • Inappropriateness is high, but respect for everyone, their beliefs, and their experiences is paramount. 
  • It is diverse, not just in writing experience, but in age, gender, and geography. 
  • There are two different views on the Oxford comma (those who are in favour of it and those who are wrong). 
As you can see, there is a lot there to like. But I am just one person. So that is why I reached out to a number of writers I know who are either in my favourite writing group or another one of which they are fond. Here's what they had to say:
"I love our group. No downsides. We are shoulders, soundboards, and friends beyond multiple borders. Filled with people who changed my life in more ways than just writing."
"This group is about respecting and caring for one another and the work we're doing, rather than using one another for our own means."
"Respect, encouragement both in real life and fictional, friendship, love and a true safe space amidst the faceless 1's and 0's of the digital social media universe."
"As one of the few members who hasn't had any fiction published, I like being in this group because I still receive a lot of tips and pointers, encouragement for my non-fiction writing, and encouragement to get off my ass and actually write some fiction. There's more to be had here: lots of love and respect, a lot of humor... and some of you are just darn cute."
"I'd heard that anyone can achieve their writing goals simply by hard work and honing their craft, but I have discovered that's nonsense. Behind every Harry Potter is a Ron, a Hermione, a Mad-Eye Moody, and a Dumbledore. Everyone needs a team, a group of people you can trust, be yourself with, even if you've got a bit of the Voldemorts that day, and share in your victories. I was lucky enough to be invited into a group like that and I would urge others to find their peeps and stick with them."
"Unfailing, unquestioning love and support, including a well-aimed kick in the ass when it's needed."
"It's a safe, non-judgmental place for [us]. No one cares if you are a newbie, a wanabe, or a published author. People will listen to your ideas or concerns and offer advice when asked for, hugs when needed and lots and lots of talk about no pants and cookies which just makes my day "
There you have it, folks. The votes have been tallied and the results are in. Writers, who are stereotypically known for being solitary hermits who hammer away at a keyboard in some writerly-looking cave only coming up for coffee and chocolate actually value the interaction and camaraderie that comes with being part of a community.

I, for one, couldn't be more thrilled. It is nice to know that you are part of something bigger than yourself and even nicer to know that there are so many of us out there who value the importance of others.

~ Andrew

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